AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a blog about my work. While many of the stories I tell here are personal, normally I try very hard to keep away from topics like my (or anyone else’s) politics. These are not normal times.
My best friend from grade school was sexually molested by a family member. She told me about this years later, when we were both near-adults, many years after the abuse ended, and many years after the family member had died. Sometime not long after this, she went to massage school and started work as a massage therapist. In school, she did internships at various community organizations. She spent the most time at a shelter for victims of domestic violence. I have a vivid memory of her telling me about this work experience. She talked at length about how she was really teaching women about safe touch and how it feels when their boundaries are honored.
This story of hers, coupled with everything I knew about her own touch history, was the seed that grew into my desire to go to massage school, and ultimately led me to where I am today. This very day. January 5, 2017. And to where I will be on January 20, Inauguration Day.
I will be at work.
See, lately, so many people I work with are feeling directly threatened and unsafe because of who they are. In my office, the one goal I have for every person is that they feel safe and they start to feel like their body is a place they can inhabit with ease and confidence. I have little power over what kind of threats or danger can appear to people once they leave my space. But with me, for that little time at least, I strive to create a place that is safe and free of judgment. I feel like those sorts of places are shrinking faster than the polar ice caps, so on January 20, I will be at work. Trying to hold that space.
For months now, I have been seeing some clients come through, only obliquely referring to the election and its results as they talk about how this ache or that pain or this overall anxious feeling just will not go away. In my outside job, working at a cancer treatment center, I have watched the unkind edges of how the political climate seeps even into the minds of people who are literally trying to save their own lives. I have been given the gift of heir trust, which I tried to honor by making a place for them to feel just a little bit like a connected and whole body.
And I have gone home and cried because I know that what I do won’t change the very real possibility that many of them will lose the ability to pay for their care, or that some of my clients in my regular practice still walk out into a world that has decided their love, or their religion, or their skin is now a problem. That they are a problem, and not so much a fellow human being.
And then I remember my best friend from grade school. How she took her trauma and turned it into action. Some kind of action. I can sit here and drink tea from my Jane Austen mug and wallow in my futility.
Or I can go to work. I can try, for just an hour at a time, for one person at a time, to create a space where we are again compassionate humans who listen to each other and honor each other. I don’t know what else to do, so I’ll be doing that.
I invite you to come and human with me for just a little while.